Mental health experts prepare for 'second wave' of pandemic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Mental health experts are seeing an uptick in calls during the pandemic. However, they are preparing for when frontline workers, whom the community calls during an emergency, will need help themselves. 

"It's a daily concern typically, this worry, this fear, and that's been going on 10, 11 months," said Caitlin Macy, clinical supervisor for acute child psychiatric services at Seven Counties Services.

Macy's career started with research in pandemics. Still, nothing could have prepared her for living through one.

"Honestly, there are so many health care professionals who probably haven't hugged their loved ones that they actually live with for months," she said. "That's awful."

Macy takes care of children in crisis, including those who are struggling with suicidal ideation, self harm and other dangerous behaviors. She and the therapy team at Seven Counties Services have seen a considerable increase in calls for mental and behavioral health since the start of the pandemic. That need is only expected to grow.

"It's what we're calling the second pandemic," said Melissa Bailey, director of communications for Seven Counties Services and Bellewood & Brooklawn. "We believe it's going to be a mental health pandemic that's really going to surface after we are through the thick of this pandemic."

That need will be from across the community but especially frontline and essential workers in survival mode.

"It kind of sinks in, 'Was that the interaction? Was that the moment that I put my family at risk?'" Macy said.

"Those who are providing critical services in the community just had to keep going, right?" Bailey added. "When we see the ends of this pandemic nearing us, it is going to be a second wave."

Experts call this the trauma phase; "when the mind and body actually starts to realize what it's been through during the whole time," Macy said.

"That's when mental health needs are going to be really critical," she added.

That's why Seven Counties Services is encouraging frontline workers, and anyone, to get assistance if needed — even if they're used to being the one who helps.

"To be their best self, they may need some help," Bailey said. "There's absolutely no shame in that."

To make an appointment with Seven Counties Services, call 502-589-1100. If someone is in an immediate crisis, they should call the crisis line for help: 502-589-4313.

Appointments can also be made by clicking here.

In addition to mental and behavioral health services, Seven Counties Services offers substance abuse treatment, intellectual and developmental disabilities services. It covers Jefferson, Oldham, Bullitt, Shelby, Spencer, Trimble and Henry counties. 

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